Stellar Group of Seniors Setting Positive Tone As Hun Field Hockey Works Through COVID
AIMING HIGH: Hun School field hockey player Aimee Millington, left, looks to clear the ball last Saturday against Stuart Country Day in the season opener for both teams. Senior defender Millington helped anchor a scrappy back line as Hun fell 3-0 to Stuart. The Raiders return to action when they play at the Pennington School on October 10. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Although the Hun School field hockey team didn’t get its usual on-field preseason training this year, it still became a tighter group.
Dealing with COVID-19 restrictions, the squad connected over the summer via numerous Zoom meetings.
“It was a great time to really get to know each other and build a culture,” said Hun head coach Tracey Arndt.
“As sad as it was with all of the struggle, it is working through that and letting everybody know that we are all struggling and it is OK to ask for help. We spent a pretty good amount of time together this summer. While we missed a preseason of training, I think we grew in our care for each other. It made us a little stronger and a little more united.”
Finally getting the OK from the school for a 2020 season, Hun started preseason practices on September 14 and brought a grateful spirit to the field.
“Now that we get this opportunity, we are being present and intentional with every practice,” said Arndt.
“We also put it in perspective; this is the last time with the seniors and we want to give them the best memories that we can.”
As the players followed the COVID-19 protocols, they couldn’t hide their joy in being back together.
“We joked that we knew that there were smiles under the masks; many haven’t seen each other for months and months,” said Arndt, who team started 2020 regular season play by falling 3-0 at Stuart Country Day last Saturday.
“There is a sense of comfort in an affinity group like an athletic team, just like it would be with another club. I think that sense of comfort and normalcy was nice for them. It was great to see.”
There has been a nice feeling throughout the Hun campus as players and coaches have adjusted to the new normal.
“We want to make it the best experience that we can and have safe conditions for our kids,” said Arndt, who also serves as the school’s co-director of athletics.
“In order to do that this year, we have to do a little extra work. I know that our staff has been willing to do it, our whole entire school has been willing to do it. While it looks different, the buzz and the community feel is still there and that has been very exciting.”
Arndt is excited about the team’s Class of 2021 and what those players can contribute in their final campaign with the program.
“We have a great group of seniors this year, they really bought into a new coaching staff last year and me coming on,” said Arndt, who guided Hun to a 3-15 record last fall in her debut season with the program.
“That was really great, I did have a lot of support there. Our senior group has gone through a lot. I am excited to see if we can get them whatever opportunities we can to play.”
Two of those seniors, Allison Rho and Elizabeth Ji, will be sparking the Raider forward line.
“Ali gives us some speed up front and a sense of calm,” said Arndt.
“Elizabeth is kind of stealthy, she comes out of nowhere and is able to get her stick on the ball.”
Along the midfield, a trio of seniors in Kayla Hampton, Renee Nearing, and Sydney Cobb, should make an impact.
“Kayla has got a lot of speed, which has been great; she has a lot of toughness and she is a gamer,” said Arndt.
“Renee is very quick and she is able to use her quickness and her height to her advantage. She has a great positive attitude to help the team. Sydney showed a lot of improvement last year so I look forward to seeing her out there in midfield.”
On the back line, seniors Aimee Millington and Rosemary Martinez bring savvy and intensity.
“Aimee started for me last year at left back; it is not an easy position at all and she was a sponge when it came to learning the position,” said Arndt.
“She has got great leadership in the backfield and great poise. She plays what I consider to be one of the more difficult positions on the field. She does it gracefully and with a good team spirit. Rosie brings a lot of energy on and off the field.”
The Hun players intend to make the most of their time on the field in the shortened season.
“First of all, our goal was to get back together safely and to embrace every opportunity that we have to be together,” said Arndt, noting that Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) competition has been canceled this fall and that league foes Lawrenceville, Peddie and Blair have opted out.
“We know that not every team has this chance because seasons have been canceled. At any moment, our season could be canceled as well.”
Along the way, Arndt is looking for the Raiders to generate some more scoring opportunities.
“Our goals are similar to last year, we would just like to improve upon every game,” said Arndt, whose team is next in action when it plays at the Pennington School on October 10.
“One area that we wanted to work on from last year was our finishing. We did not get to score a lot of goals last year so we are definitely working to improve on that.”